Scheduling Your Time

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Draw up a realistic schedule for yourself

The goal for this exercise

is to help you find enough time to succeed in your classes this quarter.

Background:

During a recent quarter several students did not do as well as they (or I) hoped that they would. I asked them to think about why they weren’t doing so well, and to find three things they could to improve their performance in the future. The most significant factor that the students had in common was not dedicating enough time to this course. The purpose of this exercise is to help you find enough time to succeed in your classes this quarter now, at the start of the quarter, instead of later (when it’s harder to recover from early stumbles).

Before we start with the scheduling exercise I’d like you to stop for a moment and consider a couple of important points:

1.

2.

There are lot of videos in this class; merely watching the videos isn’t enough.

Watching the vi deos and saying “Yeah, I totally agree with the expert’s explanation that I’m passively watching” is NOT real understanding. You understand it when you can (1) do it on your own, and (2) explain/justify everything you’re doing. So when you’re watching the videos budget time not just to watch them, not just to fill out the quiz/outline/etc that helps your understanding by giving you something to do while passively watching the videos, but also give yourself time to go back over the material. Give yourself time to think about the video, and to experiment with the material in a small program (which you may need to make yourself)

Getting it right once isn’t enough; you need to repeat the exercises till you really know how to do them.

When exam time rolls arou nd you’re going to need to write a bunch of code quickly and confidently. Same thing with job interview time, or when you go on the next course. It is very, very important that you budget time to repeatedly solve the exercises that you’re given, until you’re able to solve them quickly, confidently, correctly, and with a thorough knowledge of why everything work.

Let me be clear:

Do the PCEs over and over again until you’ve really got it!

o

The first time you solve the PCEs most people take a LONG time. This makes sense since you’re trying out different approaches, getting stuck on minor things, and generally puzzling things out. This is natural, and this is fine.

The second time you solve the same exercise it should go much faster

– you know what a pproach you’ll use, and you’re mostly forgetting stuff. Plus, if you get stuck you can look back at your first version and see what you did differently.

By the third time through you should be zipping along; the fourth and further repetitions should be very, very quick.

Each week budget some time to repeat the exercises that you did the previous weeks.

o

On the exam and in larger programs (and in job interviews) you’re going to want to have ‘templates’ that you can just whip out of your head so that you can focus on the specific problem you’re solving. Once we cover something that seems useful you should practice it until you can recreate it quickly.

Some examples of code that you should be able to generate very quickly, confidently, and correctly include:

 “Get an integer from the user”

 “Badger user for valid input” (repeatedly ask the user for valid input

 until the user finally gives you valid input)

“repeat something X times”

There’s many, many more, but this should get you started.

Keep the above two po ints in mind as you find time in your schedule for this class. It’s not enough to find a way to ‘crawl across the finish line’ each week – you want to develop a solid understanding of the material to build a foundation for your future success.

Instructions

1.

Find a copy of the ‘blank schedule’ on the course website. There should be a link very close to the link for this document. Download that document and fill it out with your existing commitments.

The idea is that you want to end up with a schedule for a ‘typical week’, so that you can get an idea of how much time you have available for your classes.

If you don’t have a nice, orderly, repeating pattern for each week then make up a schedule that accounts for your existing obligations. If you think y ou’re going to work 20 hours each week (but don’t know which 20 hours) just pencil in 20 hours someplace so that you can make sure you’ve got enough space in the week

(overall) for both work AND school.

In general, you should ‘round up’ your commitments. Notice that each row is 30 minutes of time. If your schedule doesn’t line up exactly then ‘round up’ the time that you’ll spend. For example, if your class gets out at 1:20 pm then assign the

1pm

– 1:30pm time slot to your class and don’t try to jam some work into the 10 minutes between 1:20pm

– 1:30pm. If you do get some work done then it’ll be a nice bonus, but all the other times you won’t be behind.

In general, you should ‘over-estimate’ your commitments. It’s very easy to forget and leave somethi ng out; it’s then very hard to find the time you need. If you don’t actually need all that time you can always do something with it later.

Again, the idea is that you want to end up with a schedule for a ‘typical week’ – the teacher isn’t going to verify your schedule, and it’s more important that this document be useful for you than the instructor, so if you’re unsure about what to do make a decision that helps you plan your time.

NOTE: You do NOT need to share anything with the instructor unless you’re 100% comfortable sharing it.

I do not want to know the details of your personal life, I just want to know that you’ve given some serious thought to how you’re going to devote enough time to this class.

For any given activity if you’re not 100% comfortable telling me what you’re doing just write down

<Private> instead of any details.

(You should remember for yourself what that time is used for, but the instructor does NOT need to know)

When scheduling your existing obligations don’t forget the following, common consumers of your time:

Sleep (+ bedtime and wake up time) o

Block out at least 10 hours per day (1 for bedtime, 8 for sleep, 1 for morning routine) even if you’re not going to sleep that much

Work (INCLUDING COMMUTE TIME)

Class time (INCLUDING COMMUTE TIME)

Other obligations o

Food

– shopping, prep/cooking,

eating

, clean up afterwards o

Family - Kids o

Spouse (this should probably be in addition to your kids) o

Family

– Taking care of your aging parents o

Spiritual (e.g., church, synagogue, mosque, etc, etc) o

Exercise o

Entertainment - TV shows, video games, etc o

“Me Time” – time to rest and rejuvenate each week.

2. Next, find 10 hours a week for your ‘baseline’ BIT 142 work. This is IN

ADDITION to the time you’re spending in class. This should include time to review what was covered in class, time to watch the videos, time to fill out the video viewing quiz/outline, time to study the material in the textbook, time to do the exercises, and time to practice exercises from previous weeks.

Spreading the time out over the week is better than doing it all at once. Not only can you can get stuck, but it’s hard to focus for hours at a time.

You can use different times for different things. For example, put some time right after lecture to tidy up your notes (more importantly, to tidy up your thoughts on

the material)

3. Find an additional 5 hours a week for things are tough and you need the extra time.

Hopefully you won’t need this every week, but it’s important to have the option available in case you need it.

Keep in mind that if you’re taking multiple classes reusing the same “extra 5 hours” for each of them will mean that in any given week you can only put in extra time on one class

4. Do repeat steps 2 and 3 for any other classes you might be taking

What you need to do for this exercise:

1. Download the blank schedule document and fill it out according to the above instructions.

2. a. There are easy, useful hints to help you use Word more effectively at the bottom of the page. Read through them and use them (or not).

Include the document in the .ZIP file that you hand in for this week’s work. Make sure that the file is easy for the instructor to find. a.

Putting the file in the ‘top’ folder that you’re .ZIPping is a good place. b. Keeping the file name the same helps the instructor find this file quickly.

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